Oct/Nov 2006 Poetry Special Feature

The Wasp

by Jennifer Finstrom

Photo by Jim Gourley

The Wasp

The dumpster lid shuts and I
become the wasp in the garbage bag.
Just a moment before, he was battering
the kitchen window in a heedless way,
banging the glass like a small hard fist,
and then darting like a drunken needle
between bottles of olive oil
and vinegar, legs dangling like loose
threads. Then back to the window,
back to slamming the glass.
I do not excel at killing things;
I take the coward's way, zapping
him with poison that makes a fossil
of the air. Soon he drops. I sweep
him out from beneath the radiator
in a shroud of crumbs and grit, and tip
the dustpan into the kitchen garbage.
I seal the bag, but the wasp no longer
seems to be dying. He is loud and frantic;
I am carrying a bag of angry buzz down
three flights, around the corner and
into the alley. Everyone I pass must see the bag
jerking and twitching in my hand. I put him
in the dumpster and walk quickly away.
As I fit my key—hard as the wasp's
belly—into the lock, the buzzing moves
inside my head. I carry it
upstairs to the kitchen, where
I part the curtain, tapping the glass.
Something batters the windows
of my eyes, wants to embroider
the air with desperate wings.


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